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food for thought

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  7 May 2016 12:00 AM GMT

Forest officials recently filed a police complaint against an IOC Guwahati Refinery official. They suspect the official shot dead a monkey with an air gun, whose carcass was found on the campus boundary wall. This is but one of the latest incidents of man-monkey conflict in not just Guwahati, but across Assam and large parts of the country. In January this year, carcasses of two poisoned monkeys were found at Kamalabari in Majuli. Local people there have been complaining that monkeys strip bare their fruit trees and vegetable gardens, mostly in the wee hours or afternoons when they are asleep. Then in March last, a troop of monkeys bit several people atop bagraha hill in Guwahati. The area near the bagraha shrine has been prone to monkey mece, aggravated by some devotees feeding monkeys. According to animal experts, monkeys are hierarchical creatures who regard as inferior those who feed them. And it is shortage of food in shrinking tural habitats that has forced monkeys to live dangerously close to human habitations. It is estimated that while a rhesus macaque monkey needs 10-15 hours to find sufficient food in the forest, it takes just 10-15 minutes to locate food where humans live. So monkeys are very aggressive about food, attacking humans while raiding their refrigerators and kitchens, food stores and garbage dumps in urban areas, laying waste crop fields in villages. Several states are battling the monkey mece, suffering heavy crop losses. Monkeys are being caught and sterilized, fed food laced with oral contraceptives, translocated to sanctuaries in city outskirts, frightened away with grey langurs as well as firecrackers, air guns, ultrasonics and acoustic devices. But still monkeys keep coming in greater numbers as they adapt well to new environs and are highly territorial. The Central government refuses to declare monkeys as vermin to be killed by anybody, though foresters in some states occasiolly cull them as nuisance animals. But culling makes monkeys even more belligerent, for they understand they are being elimited. Some states are planting more fruit trees for monkeys, which is positive action. Humans will have to figure hard how to co-exist with their simian cousins. Shooting or poisoning them is no solution.

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